Winemakers are now taking inventory of the destruction caused by a wildfire that erupted in a beautiful nature reserve near the French Riviera.
Rows of charred grapevines stand next to a vast expanse of steaming black vegetation devastated by the fire, which raged for a week in late August. Two people were killed and 27 others were injured in the fire that erupted near Saint-Tropez. Nearly 10,000 people had to be evacuated from the Var region. This region is known for its Cotes de Provence wine.
One small wine estate had its vines destroyed. The grapes that survived might not be able to make a saleable wine due to the smoke damage.
Pierre Audemard, Domaine de la Giscle winery, lost his entire stock and all his equipment to the fire. France-Bleu, a local broadcaster, said that he received hundreds of messages from people wishing to purchase his wine. But, he didn’t have any left.
Although MDCV Wine Group has several vineyards in the affected region, it considers itself to be relatively fortunate, however, it is still experiencing losses.
15% of vines in the Chateau des Bertrands vineyard were destroyed by the fire. Only a few rows of grapevines that have been burned are what separates the vineyard’s lush, unaltered landscape from the blackened forest beyond.
The fire was put out by firefighters and vineyard layout.
Maxime Mathon (head of communications at MDCV) said, “The vineyards act as a natural firefighting barrier, they separate winds and prevent fire from moving between plots.”
Others weren’t so lucky. The fast-moving fire destroyed a smaller estate of wine across the street, which was nestled in dense vegetation and trees.
Firefighters rushed to one vineyard, where the smoke was threatening to engulf it. A family who had not evacuated tried to extinguish smaller flames using garden shovels.
Winemakers who were able to save their crop are now focusing their attention on the possible lingering effects on their wine production for the next harvest.
Mathon stated, “Even though a vineyard is not directly touched by fire, the smoke can affect the wine’s taste.”
Vinifiers will know if they have a product that is viable during the winemaking process. This is where the grape juice ferments and turns into wine.
The concern in an industry that values the consistency and quality of Var wine is that the fire might have affected the ability to bring out its traditional characteristics.
Mathon stated, “We will need to have very strict tasting sessions to ensure that we are creating a product of the highest quality.”